Trying to get all of the organic waste I produce into compost piles is a goal I have set for myself. Some things like paper towels, coffee grounds, tea leaves, and leafy greens can be tossed into any pile at any time without affecting the composting process. Other kitchen scraps can only be added to healthy compost or added in very trace amounts to avoid disrupting the decomposition process.
Ginger roots and citrus fruits, on the other hand, can stunt the development of microbes in the compost and lead to a delayed breakdown of compost materials. That doesn’t mean that ginger scraps cannot be composted. It only means that they should be from organic ginger and added in minimal amounts. Some parts of the ginger plant break down faster than others, so let’s find out how to add fresh ginger to the compost heap.
Can You Compost Ginger Root?
Small amounts of ginger root can be added to a compost bin without any negative effects. Larger amounts of ginger can prevent effective compost microorganisms from colonizing and be difficult for compost worms to process. Ginger plants are not the favorite food of compost systems, and the roots can cause unpleasant odors and a slowed composting process.
When preparing a ginger plant for the compost heap, the most important thing to do is reduce the size and amount going into the pile at one time. If you are able to add more kitchen scraps like coffee grounds or other organic matter, you can make it easier for worms to ignore the flavor of ginger. Fresh ginger root has very strong chemicals, whereas old dried store-bought ginger will be a less potent broth for your compost heap.
Can Ginger Peel Be Composted?
Ginger peels do not have the same adverse effects on microorganism activity as pieces of ginger root do. But they still shouldn’t be added to the compost heap with acidic materials like coffee grounds or spicy foods. These, together with the ginger peels, can slow the decomposition process and prevent finished compost production.
The peels are easy to add with the rest of the kitchen scraps from the meal or tea being prepared. No more than a cup of ginger peels should go into the compost without adding high amounts of nitrogen to help create a hot compost pile. A heated pile will help compost finish faster, even with ginger scraps mixed in.
Can You Compost Rotten Ginger?
Rotten ginger, in most cases, can be composted with the rest of the kitchen scraps. Check the outer layer of the rotting ginger and make sure it is naturally moldy and decayed and not due to pests or diseases. Store-bought ginger with some mold on it can be composted with no issues, but homegrown ginger with fungus or disease may infect your garden soil and lead to contamination of the compost heap.
When you have plenty of ginger and can’t dispose of it all at once with your kitchen scraps, you can purposefully rot your ginger to help your compost out. Drowned ginger is the process of soaking ginger in clean water until it rots and starts to break down. Ginger decayed in this way is safe to add to a compost heap or toss in the worm bin as most of the effects on decomposition microorganisms have been neutralized.
Problems with Composting Ginger
Unlike other kitchen scraps, a lump of ginger thrown directly into a compost heap or worm bin will cause problems. Ginger stunts beneficial microorganisms and takes a good period of time to break down. All of the different problems caused by a bit of ginger will make it much harder to achieve finished compost.
|Problem In Compost||Cause of Problem||How to Reduce|
|Woody Texture||Unpeeled and old ginger||Rot ginger in water for potential compost fodder|
|Kills Microbes||Spicy and acidic juice||Cut the ginger into pieces the smaller, the better|
|Unpalatable for Worms||Undesirable texture and lack of bacteria colonization||Cut into tiny pieces and let rot before introducing the ginger blend to the worm bin|
|Unpleasant Odor||Strong flavor and scent||Bury deeply in the compost pile|
|Attracts Pests||Pest attracting chemicals||Place ginger in plenty of places all over the pile and not in one area|
|Resprouts||Ginger root can regrow in finished compost||Soak or chop ginger into very small pieces|
|Carries Pests and Diseases||Contamination from multiple soil sources||heat up the compost during the entire process to kill pathogens in the kitchen waste|
The outside of the ginger root is very tough and breaks down slowly, much like wood chips or tree bark, and old dried-out ginger can persist in a compost heap for several months. You can see large pieces of ginger in aged compost months after it was tossed in if left alone. Make sure to peel ginger, soak it, or cut it into tiny pieces to speed up the composting process and reduce the effects of the woody texture.
The spicy and acidic liquid in ginger can kill beneficial microorganisms in the compost and lead to inactive pockets. Without these microbes, it will take much longer for the complete compost to break down, and smells or other issues could occur. Worms eat the bacteria on organic matter and will be disinterested in empty chunks of ginger sitting in the pile.
Unpalatable for Worms
Spicy and flavorful foods can upset the balance in compost and cause worms to not eat organic materials. Ginger is not enjoyable for worms, and they will avoid large chunks of it. To make sure worms break down ginger in the compost, add water first and add small pieces spread all over the compost heap or worm bin.
The strong smell of ginger can start to get foul if it rots and doesn’t get broken down by good bacteria. If anaerobic bacteria are needed to break down the ginger due to lack of heat or poor compost conditions, then it can result in an even more offensive smell. Make sure to bury ginger deep in the compost heap to avoid noxious odors.
Pests will be attracted to the compost heap by the strong smell of ginger. The nature of ginger might attract certain insects and root-loving pests to your compost heap, so try to cut the ginger up very small and dispose of it with extra brown materials. Allowing the compost materials to heat up can also prevent the pest-attracting chemicals from being released and help your finger compost with fewer problems.
Ginger, along with garlic, onions, potatoes, and many other root crops, has the tendency to resprout in the fertile conditions of a compost heap. Additional compost is needed to rebury sprouting ginger and prevent it from stealing the nutrients from the compost as it grows. Rotting the ginger in water and slicing it into tiny pieces before putting it in the compost will prevent any accidental resprouting in the compost pile.
Carries Pests and Diseases
Since ginger is removed from commercial soil and brought to our home compost, there is a chance that diseases or pests could be transmitted. To avoid getting any pathogens and spreading them into your garden soil where they could harm your plants, you can get your compost hot. If a pile reaches more than 140 degrees, there is a good chance all dangerous diseases and pest eggs will be destroyed. Then you are free to use the nutrient-rich compost on your garden plants with no fear of infestation.